It’s been decades since I first saw Flash Gordon in the movie theater as a kid and to this day I am loathe to reach my arm into someplace I haven’t thoroughly inspected. I still go through this circus every day when I need to check my mailbox. Each time I reach my arm into that dark recess I thoroughly expect to feel a sting and pull my arm out dripping with green goo only to ask Timothy Dalton to run me through with a sword and spare me the madness.
But I think there is a bigger, more symbolic meaning here. Remember as a kid when the mail was the coolest thing ever? I would race to the mailbox to get my catalogs from Sears, Toys R Us, Service Merchandise, Cabelas, Gander Mountain, etc. and pour over them for hours looking at all the cool things they offered and I couldn’t afford. One day I’ll be able to order whatever I want, I thought, and my wife will be one of those girls in the Cabelas catalogs who sits around in her flannel pajamas and sips hot tea with honey from a giant Cabelas mug in front of the fire.
But as life wore on and many of the delights from childhood faded and soured, mail became its antithesis. Now instead of joy, it delivered a merciless sting: an endless parade of bills, collection agents, tax notices, registration and license renewals, and the ugly faces of pandering politicians at election time. Timothy Dalton said: “Death is certain, but only after tortured madness. (“How long?”) Hours. days, depending on your strength.” If that isn’t an allegory for how life wears us down, I don’t know what is.
P.S. Please feel free to use the attached picture I made of my actual mailbox (No Prince Barin’s were harmed in the making of this picture.)